Wot I Think: No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky [official site] is better on the PS4. Those aren’t words I wanted to write. The PC port feels more like a drag-n-drop than a conversion, the released build dragged down by a dozen console millstones that shouldn’t be here, and the tech on release not near ready to cope in the wild. And yet it’s a game I’m enjoying an enormous amount. It is a quandary. Here’s wot I think:

I feel like we, as a gaming nation, have in the last week gone from not understanding what No Man’s Sky was going to actually be, to talking almost exclusively about what it actually is. But just in case you’ve not been paying attention I shall nutshell: it’s a universe of 18 quintillion stars (a million trillion – a number so fantastically large that it’s best not to try to grapple with it), into which you’re randomly spawned, on one of the planets in one of those solar systems and with a broken spaceship. You quickly learn how to zap rocks to collect elements, craft equipment to mend your ship, and when you’re ready, take to the skies to find somewhere else to do the same.

As you go you can scan the worlds for their geology, flora and fauna, and upload details to a database where you receive credit should anyone else ever stumble upon the same place (as vanishingly unlikely as it should be, I’ve already found a solar system someone else had been to, as have many others – which raises some questions), and receive Units for you to spend. You can buy bigger and better ships, a new multi-tool (your scanner cum weapon cum mining beam), and incrementally improve what you’ve got with upgrades within their inventory slots. Then it’s up to you, really – race for the centre of the universe, chase after some ambiguous deity, or enjoy yourself flitting around at random, learning the languages of three alien races, improving your gear, and naming every planet you find after episodes of Quincy.

I’ve written previously about a lot of the core systems in the game, so rather than repeat myself, head over here for that. Meanwhile, I’m going to go a bit deeper into exploring the problems and successes.

Perhaps, at the dizzying distance of four days from release, thoughts have now more turned toward the longevity of the game, whether this freeform exploration of procedurally generated locations can maintain players’ interest. Certainly there has already been much gnashing of teeth and tearing of cloth about its repetitiveness. I think, if anything, NMS goes out of its way to present this impression, while not really meriting it.

There are unquestionably issues of repetitiveness. While each planet is randomly created, there’s an awful lot of similarity. You’re going to see giant toadstools, stalactites and stalagmites, and the exact same blue, gold and red flowers offering treats. They’ll all have different names, but they’re the same thing. Also, each planet will have alien bases to the same design, identical ancient ruins, monoliths, research posts, and on and on. It can start to feel a little monotonous. Until something magic happens.

So much is luck. You can have a bad run of it and land on bland, identikit terrains again and again, and wonder what the fuss is about. And then the next planet can feature flying fish over vast cuboid geological structures with intricate cave networks with fluorescent foliage, replete with peculiar wildlife on both land and sea. Beautiful colours, underwater goat-fish, plentiful supplies and perhaps a crashed ship to repair far, far better than your own. And then there’s purpose, both in finding what you need to get that ship fixed, and in just wanting to explore the lush lands.

Runs of good luck are transformative: I found a planet covered in Vortex Cubes, and made millions of units, bought an incredible ship. Next planet was terrifyingly hostile, sentinels shooting on sight, but resources rich and exciting, making it a madcap cat-and-mouse game to gather what I could. Planet after that was mostly ocean, gorgeous and calming to explore.

Motivation is key, and here the game stumbles so incredibly badly. If it managed to communicate usefully with the player at any point this would be so much easier to find, but the game is seemingly obsessed with obfuscating both its systems and its purposes. “It means you work things out for yourself!” goes the argument, and yes, it’s undeniably satisfying to make discoveries without having your hand held. Right up until you realise you’ve missed massively important discoveries because you didn’t know they were there to be had. I’ve spent the entire time playing wondering what an Atlas Pass is, and only by giving in and searching online did I learn I could have already had one. Had it only said, “Hey, this thing is over here, and you need to want to go there,” I’d have been incentivised and driven.

Most of my drive comes from wanting more inventory slots, and that means making money to get bigger ships. And the key problem here is getting one. Suddenly, with my 29 slot ship, I feel a little bit like I’ve achieved all the goals I could tangibly find. Fortunately I later saw a 38 slot ship on a space station, going for 25m units, so there’s my new goal.

And here is really where whether NMS is for you is revealed. If you want real goals, a strong sense of purpose beyond bumbling around and incremental improvements, then this really isn’t going to satisfy. It’s deeply frustrating to think about that game, the game that offered both the freeform, undirected, but undesigned randomness, and a real, purposeful narrative thread of missions and goals. If you’re the sort who loves just milling about in a Far Cry game and ignores the main plot, then you’re far more likely to find affinity with NMS, albeit without even the litany of sidequests to direct you.

Although none of this addresses that rather larger issue I started with: the PC version just doesn’t take any advantages of the platform.

Where the PS4 version of the game has shortcomings, I saw the PC as the obvious solution for all of them. Draw distances, confusingly clunky menus, poor saving, and horribly imprecise combat, all naturally would be better on a desktop with a mouse and keyboard. Each is either just as bad, or incredibly, worse.

The game has frequently been praised for being beautiful, and while of course one person’s aesthetic delight is another’s splenetic shite, I’ve found it often oddly ugly. Not just the awkwardness of tacky decorative 2D elements in an overly chunky 3D world, but the technical clumsiness of elements of the world fuzzing into existence immediately in front of you. And it’s just as bad on PC, except now you’re sitting with your face far closer to it. Even with the generative details cranked up as high as the restrictive options will let you, you’ll see the world fizzing and pixelating as you explore, rocks crappily redrawing themselves just a few feet away.

The menus are absolutely dreadful, and there’s no pretending otherwise. The weirdest hangover of the PlayStation being the need to hold down the mouse button for a second or so to fill a meter before clicks are recognised… on most things, but to keep you guessing, not all! It makes no sense with a mouse, where clicks are far more deliberate than the wavering cursor of an analogue stick, and that it’s even necessary in the options menus (for individual options, not changing between options pages, naturally) is proof of some really bizarre decisions. Right mouse button to return out of some menus is really weird, Esc not letting you do the same is weirder. It’s A and D to switch between inventories, but it’s Q and E to switch between galactic map paths. It’s like they put the controls in a washing machine.

But where the PS4 has you having to clumsily juggle inventory items in the slots of your three pages of menus – exosuit, ship, and multitool – the PC can obviously let you just drag and drop items about with your mouse. Except no, it can’t. You’re stuck with the same weirdness, but now having to hold down randomly assigned keyboard keys to swap items, or select what type of tech you want to build. How the hell it isn’t just, “Click on empty slot, choose from pop-up menu” I cannot fathom.

Similar problems remain with the uploading of information to the galactic database. Everything you encounter, from rock to plant to creature to planet to solar system, can be named and claimed, and uploaded in return for Units, the game’s currency. But they must be uploaded one at a time. Even if you’ve found thirty different things on that planet, and just want to dump them into the database for the coins (the novelty of naming things no one is ever likely to see wears off pretty quickly), you can’t. One at a time, “Units received”, “Units received”, “Units received”…

I’ve no idea how PlayStations work – it’s probably something to do with cogs and goblins – but I’m aware they’re not as speedy as PCs. There might be RAM issues for why the game isn’t capable of saving on the fly, instead relying on you to get in and out of your spaceship, or manually save at outposts. But the same being true on PC seems bewildering in a world where almost all other games seem to have a grip on what you’ve been up to at any point. It’s possible to go enormous stretches, even change solar system, without the game thinking an autosave might be appropriate, and with no manual save possible while in space, a crash (or even just assuming the game will do the obvious) can mean losing a lot of progress.

And the combat. On console it desperately aches for some sort of lock-on, with skittish animals darting all over while you laboriously try to play catch up with the camera. On PC it just becomes more apparent how weakly it’s all delivered, hits not visibly registering on enemies, no health meter shown for them while any old rock gets one. It’s easier, being able to aim, but it feels even more hollow.

Space combat, meanwhile, is wretched on mouse/keyboard. Taking leave of every sense imaginable, the controls for flight are on the mouse, with WASD assigned all over the place. W to speed up, S to slow down (fair enough) but A and D rotating the ship. All axes for steering are on your mouse which makes for a baffling soupy mess. Early attempts just to fly in a straight line led to barking mad barrel rolling, so unintuitive are the non-gamepad controls. And the last thing I want in a first-person PC game is to need to resort to a gamepad! Space combat is sluggish and dreary, and with no lock-on ability for weapons on the ground or in the stars, you’re left thrashing around wanting it to just be over.

There are other core elements of the game that just feel derisory. Landing your ship is something that should, of course, be just perfect. Instead it’s bloody terrible. Ship controls on planet are never fully handed over to you, the game trying to do half the work for you, so of course fighting against you. Trying to see below you to know where you’re going to land is nigh impossible, and it’s infuriating. You can’t even hover on the spot. Inventories make little sense, with the ability to send items to your ship when it’s far away, but for no given reason no ability to teleport them back. Shop interfaces seemingly at random decide whether to let you sell from your ship’s inventory, or force you to teleport all items you want to sell into your personal inventory bit by bit. Upgrades require an inventory slot to install, but invariably also require inventory slots for crafting too, meaning you’re forced to keep empty spaces where you naturally want to carry things. Scanning world items is nothing like you saw in the early footage where you needed only to zap it with your multitool – now you have to use a far more ambiguous scan visor, Metroid Prime-style, but with a full couple of seconds delay before it starts and no clear information about what items are scannable and what are just decoration… And so it goes on, as so many core features fall short of what should be basic expectation.

And yet I keep playing. Sometimes I’m very bored while I’m playing, but see a goal worth reaching (more inventory slots), and sometimes I’m just delighted, running about on a vibrant world, exploring, discovering, progressing. Because, I am the person I described above, the one who spends more time in Far Cry climbing hills and hunting badgers than worrying about the story. I love walking simulators, games focused on exploration and discovery, even when none was intended, just randomly created. I can’t pretend I don’t wish there was far more going on in No Man’s Sky (and I don’t mean building bases or better gun fights, I mean more opportunities for emergent narratives, more surprises, more loose goals), because the game absolutely feels lacking. But there’s enough there, in those infinite stretches, to keep me gripped. And that’s a bigger boast for the game, because it comes despite the screed of flaws and issues listed here.

This likely reads as an overwhelmingly negative review, and it’s deserved – No Man’s Sky is massively flawed, and systematically poorly designed. But it’s also a massive playground of potential and opportunity, and its sheer ambition, for all its massive stumbles, is rewarded in play. It’s bloody awful that the whole time I’ve been playing, the dozens of hours on PC this weekend, I’ve been thinking about the PS4 hastily hooked up to the TV at the other side of my office and wishing I were still playing over there. But I can see the PC version improving come the patches it desperately needs, and I can fantasise about the possible reworkings of the abysmal ship controls and stupid inventories and long mouse presses, and then this version will step forward and take the lead. It’s not there yet, but it could be.

No Man’s Sky is out now on Windows via GOG, Humble and Steam for £40/$60/€60.

Disclosure: Our Alec did some last minute writing for No Man’s Sky. He won’t write about the game for us anymore, and is probably responsible for all the bad things about the game.


  1. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Yikes, such a shame. I’ve been trying to think how the game would be received free of any expectation and hype, and I really think it would have found a delighted fanbase on PC. Such a PC game – space, procedural generation, emergent gameplay, mucking about in inventories. And yet… somehow it’s too smooth.

    The more criticism I read of it the more I think they should have had a ‘survival mode’ option for those that wanted it and really go to town on those elements of the game, leaving the majority of players to enjoy a more sedate exploration game. That’s one of the drawbacks of making it online I guess (and really, why is it online?!) you can’t give different players different options like that.

    I’m still in love with it anyway. The shine is wearing off slightly, but I fired it up again for half an hour last night and, whoops, 3 hours gone and I’m going to regret this in the morning.

    • ZXDunny says:

      FWIW, I’ve not been online with it yet – I can’t connect no matter what I try. So it’s not all doom and gloom, it really can be a single-player game :)

    • MrTallShaw says:

      Any thought of using the mouse and keyboard should be thrown out immediately. Think Dark Souls 1 on PC. Abysmal with the M/KB combo, but super with a controller. Luckily, I’ve got a PS4 controller, which I’m using.

      And I chose the PC version over the PS4 version purely to take advantage of my 21:9 monitor, which looks awesome and works, for the most part… aside from UI scaling/stretching issues (which I’ve gotten accustomed to.)

      The game is fraught with issues, but dammit, it still loads of fun and I’ve already sunk 20+ hours into it and flying onwards to the center with my 31 slotted starship!

      • aggr08 says:

        With all it’s technical issues, one thing the game does well is switch between M+K and gamepad on the fly. I’m using my Steam Controller for flight, and M+K for ground. Works well that way. I wasted my whole weekend playing this, despite its flaws.

        One thing in the article – being able to sell items on your ship at a terminal on planet is NOT random. If you land at a dock at an outpost, you’ll be able to sell from your ship. If you’re not at a dock, you can only sell from your suit.

        Some things that will make this game better – planetary and system maps. Allow full control of the ship on planets, including the ability to crash your ship (I mean, why not damage modules on a crash and force you to repair, just like the crashed ships you can find…), and some way to track animals so you have a better chance of finding the last few species you need. Also, better saving! It’s ridiculous that EXITING the ship saves, but not entering it. So if you gather a ton of resources, then hop into your ship, go off planet, and the game crashes (which happens quite a bit), you could have lost everything from the time you last LANDED and exited your ship. Stupid.

        Anyway… it’s still a lot of fun. :)

        • modzero says:

          If you land at a dock at an outpost, you’ll be able to sell from your ship.

          Now, good luck consistently landing on the pad, and not to the side of it. Sometimes completely randomly, sometimes because another spaceship only materialized on the pad once you smashed your face into it.

      • jsizzle says:

        No. That is wrong in every way. Dark Souls had bak kb+m because of the mouse input only wanting to have 4-directional movements rather than diagonal as well. The result was jaggey movements.

        NMS has really good kb+m controls believe it or not, I don’t see how it could be restrictive or something as long as you can freely rebind everything you need. Could you explain how it isn’t good? I use a ps4 controller as well, I got it just for Dark Souls but I couldn’t ever rely on a thumbstick for aiming.

        • jsizzle says:


          Also, a side note. I can’t control my ship that well with a controller. The tiny movements with my mouse are way more efficient. I was at my friends house watching him try to pan his mouse so wide, picking it up and dragging it while you only need tiny movements. It acts as a stick. When you move your mouse left it will go left, but you are required to recenter it yourself!

        • Juan Carlo says:

          Dark Souls is fine if you download that fanmade mouse patch. I’ve beaten it 3 times with KB+M.

        • Regibo666 says:

          I actually prefer KB/M. Tried my xbox controller and it was ok but definitely prefer KB/M. I usually prefer controllers too. Usually only use KB/M for MMO’s.

    • PoulWrist says:

      60€ does put up quite the expectations. So if no Sony involvement had happened, I am sure this would’ve been a lovely little title that could’ve seen improvements over time. Now, I just think it’ll rot on the PC.

      • modzero says:

        Not sure the game would happen at all without the Sony deal, what with the flood and and all. OTOH, I do agree that it seems like the game lost focus at some point in the development.

        • darkmorgado says:

          I’m not sure there ever was a focus.

          It feels to me as though HG came up with a way to make a procedurally generated universe, then realized they had to add gameplay. The universe came first, and then they tried to bolt a game on top of it.

          NMS feels, to me, like Minecraft without the crafting. You can’t effect any permanent change on the worlds you inhabit; each planet is merely a palette swap where you mine resources so you can see the next palette swap. The procedural generation IS the game.

          And that’s just boring.

    • Regibo666 says:

      I honestly don’t understand this reviewer. He is saying it’s better on ps4 because of kb/m controls and the fact he’s sat close to a monitor? Also it lacks pc specific features?

      So play the pc version with a controller on a TV…. it’s not rocket science is it? There are no laws stating you must play using a KB/M on a monitor on PC.

      Personally I find the kb/m perfectly fine. I actually prefer it and I normally use controllers on my pc.

      Really enjoying the game.

      • Regibo666 says:

        I just want to add, the game auto saves every time you leave your ship. Mine does anyway. Comes up saying restore point saved.

      • Marr says:

        He’s saying that a PC game with crappy KBM controls that looks terrible up close on a monitor is a bad PC game. Some PC gamers don’t own controllers, or televisions. Some gaming PCs are laptops.

        • Regibo666 says:

          Yes but that doesn’t make the ps4 version better does it. It just makes playing using a KB/M on a monitor inferior to playing on a TV with a controller.

          • Marr says:

            It makes the typical out of the box PS4 experience better than the typical out of the box PC experience. Okay, the best *possible* experience is to build a specialised passively cooled living room PC with the perfect hardware combination to overpower an actual PS4 (At four times the price) while still jumping through whatever hoops NMS requires, but that’s not an experience anyone’s likely to have in the real world.

      • fish99 says:

        It also looks far uglier on PC for some reason. I’m almost certain the PC version is upscaling, having closely examined some screenshots I took, but I’ve also seen the PS4 version up-close and it looks a lot clearer.

        I haven’t noticed this in any other games I’ve seen on both PC and PS4. Dark Souls 3 for instance looks a lot sharper on my PC versus on PS4.

      • Ragnar says:

        It’s all about expectations.

        I expect that a PS4 game will be played from a couch on a TV with a controller.

        But I expect that a first-person PC game will be played with M&K on a monitor. And I expect that the controls and UI will be altered to work with M&K with standard PC expectations (like ESC being used to exit).

        These are things that should have come up during testing and should have been fixed (speaking as someone who has beta tested ports, pointed out such issues, gotten them fixed).

        And there’s also the expectation that the game will run, and run well, on a PC sporting much more powerful hardware than the PS4. That, currently, seems to be a craps shoot. At least you know the PS4 version will work.

  2. ZXDunny says:

    Sadly, I have to agree. With all of it. This game has me in its claws, gripped like no other has since Elite back in the 80s, but damn the controls and interface suck donkey balls.

    Still playing the bloody thing though!

    • Chalky says:

      It’s the strangest experience I’ve had in a long time. The UI is horrible and so many design decisions are completely asinine but I keep coming back to it to play it some more.

      I can’t help but feel sad that the game is crippled by such glaring shortcomings and mourn the game that could have been if only they had a sensible UI and made some better design decisions.

      • Tacroy says:

        It’s faintly incomprehensible to me that in a game about freedom and exploration, there’s no UI to manage your waypoints and no map interface. Find the location of a ruin? Well that waypoint is going to be on your map forever until you either leave the system or go visit it. Want to know what’s in your general vicinity? Well too bad.

        And the game is a dick about it too. I’ve frequently gotten waypoints tagged on places I’ve already visited, so I show up expecting to do a thing but find the thing already done.

        It’s like there’s an entire UI screen missing, with a map of the areas you’ve explored, a waypoint manager, and a quest journal.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          “It’s like there’s an entire UI screen missing, with a map of the areas you’ve explored, a waypoint manager, and a quest journal.”

          You hit the nail on the head with this. I can’t be the only one who kept tapping ‘M’ and sighing, and flipping through various screens trying to find the non-existent planetary map.

  3. Godwhacker says:

    I’d say this is about right. It feels a bit early access right now, but hopefully after Hello Games get some sleep and are allowed some time away from the angry Internet people threatening to kill them they can sort it out and make it what it should be.

    I’ve resorted to using a gamepad in the air and keyboard and mouse on foot and it’s a decent compromise, but the interface needs binning and replacing badly.

  4. yogibbear says:

    The green laser has auto lockin for taking down those pirates. I liked the controls :/

    • prof_yaffle says:

      This is an example of the game not explaining basic features properly. It doesn’t explain that the Phase Beam will lock on to enemies anywhere in its description.
      I only found out they would lock on after accidentally shooting another ship while trying to mine an asteroid.

      • Danarchist says:

        If you carry a stack of iron you can repair your ships shields at any time during battles. It is wonky with the crap interface controls, but if you have a full stack of iron you are basically immortal till you run out that way.

        On the “work of art” statement, my wife has actually enjoyed watching me play this, and she hates video games. She just finds it very pretty and random. The adorable “Spike faced mice” we found on one planet running around the feet of the largest dog thing yet pretty much hooked her.

        • Danley says:

          I don’t think I’m that savvy of an observer/gamer but the lasers come with tech very early on describing combat modifiers, so I assumed they could also be used for combat. Though it was trying out different buttons that made me even switch to the lasers. I thought I’d have to install them. Ironically, the blasters are more efficient for space mining because of cooldowns, I think.

          Killing drones/pirates reveals a lot of tech pretty quickly, which gives some idea. Best way I can relate to the combat is every stationary turret mode in every action game I’ve ever played, like Ratchet and Clank so Medal of Honor. I haven’t discovered auto attacking tech yet, but it seems like a logical progression to have your own bots and mech and that’s where those sort of games get really chaotic and enjoyable.

  5. DThor says:

    Once again, thanks for the actually informative article. I get nauseous with the ridiculous articles out there referring to NMS as a “work of art” (since the Wired “review” I’ve been noticing that phrase popping up more and more).
    I’m sure it’s got enough play in it to last a few weeks of flying about, but it obviously is broken on PC without a high likelihood of those basic design decisions going away and questionable how long such a small team will take to squash the actual bugs.
    I still think this whole process would have fared much better without the Sony elephant in the room, quietly entering open beta on Steam and building a loyal fan base over time.

    • Regibo666 says:

      Not sure how it is “broken”. How do you come to this conclusion?

      If you don’t like the controls with KB/M use a controller. Always makes me laugh how people are forever praising the versatility of PC yet insist on sticking to just one control scheme. It’s 2016. All games come with controller support.

      As for performance. Going by the forums the VAST majority of issues seem to be user related. Out of date drivers or old hardware. Many of the legitimate issues have already been fixed.

      • fish99 says:

        I saw my brother sit down to play the PS4 version yesterday and the game hung during the galaxy fly-by intro. Tell me that’s user related. I also saw a twitch streamer have 3 crashes in 8 hrs of play, again with the PS4 version.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        It’s 2016. All games come with controller support.

        Hardly, and even then most Windows controller support is just an Xbox controller option due to the obsolescence of the DirectInput API.

  6. Lakshmi says:

    I am enjoying it, but I literally fight with the controls to play rather than them being hidden things you forget about once you know them.

  7. Boomerang says:

    I’ve been playing with a 360 pad, this removes most of the control issues described above. Mouse flying sounds utterly awful. Even the clumsiness of aiming with a controller (something I hate) isn’t too bad at all thanks to the soft-lock targeting. Really enjoying it so far, and haven’t seen anywhere near half of what’s described environment-wise.

    • Jay Load says:

      Well, let’s just say that Mouse piloting in the X series of games was my preferred option; they got it exactly right allowing for precise, smooth movement. Here….it’s pretty much as bad as John says. Okay most of the time but it sometimes stubbornly willful when it should be helpful. I might try it with a pad next time, see if it’s any better.

      • Cederic says:

        Thanks for sharing this – I was reading John’s description thinking, “Mouse steering doesn’t have to be a bad thing” and you’ve confirmed that it’s the implementation rather than the concept that’s flawed.

      • Shadow says:

        Freelancer’s mouse-based flight controls were a breeze as well. Seems this is just bad.

    • Marr says:

      It’s frustrating, because there are dozens of examples of fun, responsive mouse control spaceships in our history. Starglider, Star Wars Arcade, Wing Commander, X-Wing and TIE Fighter, Tachyon. None of those were trying to retrofit mouse controls over a console flight engine, though.

  8. iainl says:

    Hmm. Ooof.

    But, if I were to think playing on a pad is OK (at least until some sort of way to use my flight stick comes along, maybe, in the future), would rather sit at my desk for this than wait until the TV’s free and fancy saving myself £10, is it really that much worse than the PS4 release?

    • Geebs says:

      As long as your PC isn’t ten years old, I imagine it’s basically the same. The major difference is that the PC version will come down in price.

      4K helps a lot with the blurriness and detail transitions, too.

      • iainl says:

        Thanks – since I suspect a fair proportion of my play would be through remote streaming to the PC even if I did get the PS4 one, I’ll save myself a tenner and run it there directly.

        • Missing Cat says:

          “Remote Streaming”? Are you oblivious you can buy long HDMI + USB cables (e.g. from Amazon)? The only reservation is the HDMI cable needs to be high quality so it won’t lose latency over distance and the USB extension cord will need a powered hub at the end to plug in things like mice/kb/gamepads/throttles/joystick/trackir and that’s it. What’s the problem??

      • Asami says:

        I haven’t yet had a poke around the configuration files to see if it’s possible, but if you want to experiment (at your own risk, of course), look around for any setting mentioning “Chromatic Aberration” and try disabling it, that would be what causes the blurriness.

        • Geebs says:

          I think there’s actually some sort of FPS-preserving dynamic resolution scaling thing going on, as there was with the console version of Rage. Might just be a hangover from the PS4. Oddly, 4K really does look like 4K.

          The shaders are all visible within the game’s folder, although I’ve not looked at the actual code, so it might be possible to replace the chromatic aberration with a modified simple “out=in” pass through shader even if there isn’t a config setting. Of course, fiddling with that might cause your video card to lock up etc.

  9. klops says:

    I like that turtle customs officer with a metallic nose screwed in its head with cross-head screws. Otherwise I’m not so thrilled and most likely never touch the game.

    • Marr says:

      I wonder if every race in SF invents cross head screws independently, or is this patent the primary source of humanity’s future space wealth?

  10. Rodney Dee says:

    It’s simply by far the worst game I’ve ever loved.

    • Furiant says:

      I posted a rambling bitter comment, but yours is really what I meant.

  11. Mungrul says:

    I hear there’s no HOTAS support either?
    Yeah, date for me purchasing this is slipping further away every day.

    • DuncUK says:

      There isn’t even joystick support. There are barely enough systems to control in space flight to make HOTAS worthwhile anyway, but I resent having to use a joypad to fly in space with my decent and barely used joystick gathering dust in the corner.

  12. Marclev says:

    It’s a fair review, but one thing I would say is I believe that you can trade straight from your ship only if the ship is actually parked on a designated landing bay at the trade centre / space station / whatever. Otherwise you need to transfer the stuff over first and then trade from your personal inventory.

    In the review it is however implied that which of these options is available is random.

    • John Walker says:

      I’ve had it contradict this rule in both directions.

      • DuncUK says:

        It can be massively inconsistent. I’ve had it refuse to let me sell stuff in my spaceship inventory yet outside the trade interface I can open the spaceship inventory and transfer stuff about… without so much as moving an inch away from the trade computer. It makes little sense.

      • Asami says:

        It’s been fairly consistent for me. Though it can be a bit confusing in larger outposts that might have multiple buildings with trade interfaces.

        Landing on a pad and trading in the attached building has always worked. Some posts however have a “landing area” with a little cylinder terminal, and usually the closest building to those with a trading station works to sell directly from ship inventory as well, but other buildings, if they have a trading terminal in them also, might not.

        • Asami says:

          I should also note that the tiny outposts with only the little floating sphere never let you sell from the ship, which is unfortunate.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      You should be able to trade from your ship as long as you’re close enough to it to transfer from its inventory.

      No Man’s Sky needs to be played blobbed out on the settee when you aren’t looking for anything particularly engaging but just need some ambient kinesthetic activity.

  13. Tetrode says:

    Agree with pretty much everything in this review. I am really loving this game but christ is has a lot of flaws. The flaws aren’t stopping me playing though, and some planets I’ve discovered have been absolutely incredible to explore.

    Putting on a podcast and playing this game in a chill relaxing way is really great – But yeah, give me full control of my ship on a planet please.

    • DuncUK says:

      I think the best thing that can be said about this game is that it appears to be very easily moddable. Community to the rescue!

      • Cederic says:

        Hmm. Modding in a new UI would be viable?

        Sounds like the game needs a proper PC oriented UI, needs performance issues ironing out and needs things like FOV, resolution and draw distance to be configured properly for sufficiently capable PCs.

        After that the game – even with inventory management, never a good thing – will go onto my wishlist.

  14. wfw-rps says:

    quite spot on review and quite generous- glad to hear someone comment on how ugly the game regularly is and how bad the pop/fade/speckle in. also the flying -i read a reasonable amount before buying- but no one mentioned how you dont have full control of the ship over a planet untill now- i found that really disappointing when i first got my hands on it- hopefully hello games will take the millions they have made and reinvest in their product and improve it a lot going foward

    • Czrly says:

      Actually, the pop-in was the very first thing I noticed in some of the streams from the PS4 version. It’s unbelievably bad – worse than TES games!

  15. nofare says:

    From Twitter-person @xaiax :

    “‘No Man’s Sky’ seems to be a game where you play as one of those people that go to national parks to deface rocks and harass wildlife.
    They should’ve called it ‘Manifest Destiny’, but then there’d be trademark issues.”

  16. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    Preface: I don’t want to criticise your review, if you liked the game then that is of course the opinion to which you are entitled.

    Maybe my memory is tainted by some kind of anti-rose tinted glasses, but I feel like this game is not getting enough criticism for the unbelievably shitty job HG have done ‘porting’ this to PC.

    I’m sure that I will suddenly be branded some kind of anti-NMS conspirator for saying that, but really the gameplay is not the issue here (though I found it bland and unsatisfying, that is just a matter of opinion and I know some people like it). The issue for me is that when Arkham Knight was released last year, the level of flack the developers received for the PC version was very intense; increasing the sales of pitchforks by about a thousand percent and leading to articles about what the industry should learn from this abominable shambles, and how dare RockSteady and WB for not giving a fuck about their fans etc.

    Let’s not forget too, that there was inarguably a great deal more love poured into Batman’s final hour: fantastic, satisfying gameplay & combat, meticulous level design, fantastic voice acting, a suitably ridiculous story, amazing graphics and a great deal of variety in the challenges and side missions, providing a large amount of replayability and “fun(tm)”. Had it not been for the technical issues B:AK would have sat nearly next to The Witcher 3 on people’s favourite lists.

    Fast forward almost exactly a year, and No Man’s Sky gets a very different treatment from the press. It is, at its core, a very clever procedural system with really not a great deal else to shout about. The gameplay is poor and repetitive, the story is vague and has more gaps than Suzanne Warren’s teeth, and being of course being procedural there is no real level design. Yet this game, if anything, is being lauded as a flawed gem.

    I don’t know whether it’s because Sean Murray is such an affable guy and WB are a big evil Corp laughing at us in their ivory tower, but it should be highlighted that it is 2016 (for fuck’s sake), and that shitty developers selling non working games for 45 quid should be slammed for stealing our money and giving us shitty products, regardless of how good the game is or how much we like the developer’s beard.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Hmm, there may be an element of indie vs mega-corp going on but I think you’re forgetting just how bad Batman ran on launch. I haven’t played on PC, but the main gripes with NMS appear to be that it doesn’t look and/or run any better than the PS4 version when we all know it should. Batman was “yikes, this is unplayable, tell me when you’ve patched it” bad, and then took months to fix.

      • Czrly says:

        From the Steam reviews that I read, a very, very large portion of the player base couldn’t even start the game and many, many others couldn’t get it to run at a playable framerate.

        • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

          Oh :( then, yeah, that’s weird it’s not being widely reported.

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          Don’t forget, almost nobody ever bothers making a post saying “it’s working fine for me”, because they’re busy playing, so all you’ll ever see is posts from people with problems.
          Add that to the game being the biggest seller on steam this past week and if it’s crashing for 0.1% of players, then based on Steamspy’s estimate of about 500,000 owners you’d expect about 500 complaints.

          • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

            I wouldn’t say that’s a fair assessment to make. If you take a look at other games, like Prison Architect, the forums and Steam reviews are resplendent with glowing reviews and praise for how wonderfully executed the whole affair was.

          • Sakkura says:

            Plenty of games have good user review scores on Steam. No Man’s Sky debuted with an astonishing “mostly negative” score and has by now only crawled up to a still-awful “mixed” rating.

          • clocknova says:

            It’s working fine for me. And I’ve got it installed on a 2013 iMac (Bootcamp, obviously). And while my processor is a 3.5 Ghz quad-core i7, and still compares well with what’s coming out now, my GPU was probably underpowered and outdated when the computer was new, as is the way with all Macs, these days–sigh. (For the record, its a GeForce GTX 780M with 4 GB of VRAM.) But even with all of that, I had no problem running the game at 2560×1440, at more than playably smooth framerates with almost all settings at high (I left shadows at medium). Go figure.

            But yes, the UI is absolute crap.

        • Tacroy says:

          I think that a lot of the people with truly awful performance are trying to play on unsupported hardware. You need at least an i3, but there’s still a bunch of Core 2 CPUs out there.

          • Sakkura says:

            And some of them have a Core i7-5930K and GTX 980. So you can’t just blame underpowered hardware.

          • Azhrarn says:

            Seeing the game drop down to 20 FPS on stream running on Totalbiscuits nVidia GTX1080 was quite an experience. As long as you were in space the FPS was solid and locked to 60-ish (58-65), but as soon as you approached a planet the FPS tanked, and then slowly crawled back up as stuff was done in the background, not to mention the random mouse-jerking the game appeared to be doing, which really messed with his ability to play.

        • Flank Sinatra says:

          It runs fine for me…for about 20-30 minutes, then the frame rate randomly tanks and I have to restart the game. I’m guessing this is a memory leak or something.

      • Stompywitch says:

        It was unplayable for some people. Worked pretty much perfectly on my machine.

    • John Walker says:

      You might want to take another stab at reading the review.

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        I read the whole thing, and I recognise that your criticisms exist, and mercifully you’re one of the few (other than user reviews) who seems to actually address them at all. Your blatant condescension aside, what I’m having a “stab” at is that the criticism in your review merely points out gripes and immediately forgives them because ‘well I’m having fun, so fuck it it’s not so bad’. The criticisms are way too well mannered. Even the post that you made that described a couple of the launch issues was a tad forgiving, as if somehow 12 months has wiped out memories and somehow absolves the fucking shambles this industry is in as far as quality control is concerned, and the gaming public’s predilection for enabling this bullshit to continue on seemingly forever.

        • Frank says:

          Sure looks to me like you are just posting on autopilot, not unlike this guy who said the exact same thing about unmerited “forgiveness”: link to rockpapershotgun.com

          The review I see above says things like “This likely reads as an overwhelmingly negative review, and it’s deserved”. Yes, a “but” follows this statement, but hardly weakens it.

        • John Walker says:

          Any “forgiveness” is entirely in your own head. I’m stating my experience, of how frustrating and poorly constructed it is, and that despite this I’m enjoying playing it. I’m not going to lie because it would please angrier people.

          • Chalky says:

            And for what it’s worth you’ve managed to capture my opinion on the game almost perfectly. It’s as though they’ve taken something really fun but forced you to claw your way through terrible design in order to get at it.

            I’ve been irritated by the game pretty much the entire time and every time I stopped playing it’s been in a “screw this, I’ve had enough” mood – but I keep coming back to it.

            A friend mentioned how many times he’s rage quit playing LoL, vowing to never return, only to come back soon after. No Man’s Sky has captured a similar experience in a single player game.

            It’s really quite the achievement, but not for the best reasons.

          • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

            Well I suppose it would be in my head, given that it was my interpretation of what you put. The review above (to me) read like it was tremendous fun, despite some issues, when from what I’ve seen and played its a fucking nightmare that needs months of fixes or throwing in the bin.

            I don’t know, maybe I’m angrier than I should be, but I have become incredibly frustrated with this attitude of release completely abortive software with the promise of ‘fixes later’. It’s been happening for ages and we’re all so ok with it. Bill Hicks comes to mind when he says “How far up your ass does his dick have to be before you realise he’s fucking you?”. I don’t for a second think that your criticisms are less valid BECAUSE you had a good time in spite of them, but I STILL don’t feel like their is enough scrutiny placed upon HG, or any other developer for that matter.

          • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

            There, not their. Stupid autocorrect.

          • Dinger says:

            You know, there’s a weirdness in games and their reviews, one that, in one way, is not unlike reviews in music, books and everywhere else, and, in another, is complete unlike them.

            Basically, reviewers have to give credit for past achievements. Yes, we all say we don’t, but we do. Hemingway got his Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea. If we like a band that had a great album, we will -get- what they’re trying to do in a mediocre followup: we hear the familiar sound, and the greatness echoes.
            Will Wright built up a lot of cred. Go read the Spore reviews. See the user score? That’s part delusion and part the fact that nobody reviews an eight-year-old game. Well, except for RPS’s critically-acclaimed Have You Played? series.

            But, that’s where games have the advantage. Development may continue after release. The game might actually get better. Sometimes it doesn’t, mind you: Psychonauts never did ditch that terrible console control scheme. But sometimes the game gets drastically better.
            It almost always gets more stable.

            And, you know what? It inevitably gets cheaper. Not only that, the hardware to run it decently gets cheaper too.

    • TheDyingScotsman says:

      Except it’s not a port on PC.

      • Marr says:

        It’s just something that happens to look and feel exactly like one?

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        The game uses Playstation 4 files and compression in the PC version, kind of hints that it’s a port.

  17. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    The worlds are rubbish. Ignore the ‘good/bad luck’ in finding ‘interesting planets’, there genuinely aren’t any. However it’s textured, whatever objects are scattered around on it, each planet is a random height map, with bits of water where that height map goes below a certain altitude (oh also caves).

    There are no lakes, no rivers, no seas, no oceans. No beaches, no dunes, no deserts. No hills, no moors, no mountains. No craters, no canyons, no cliffs. It’s all just random ups and downs. If you’ve ever played Mount and Blade: Warband, think of the randomised terrain from combat areas in that.

    Plants are plopped about randomly. No forests, jungles, scrublands, swamps – just ‘some plants’.

    Each planet has an atmosphere, and the same gravity. You’re never in a dense, murky, Venusian smog, and you’re never on the earth’s moon where the lack of air lets the gaze extend to infinity.

    There’s no nothing. Just random height maps, random blobs of water, random scatterings of plants, random placements of little moon base buildings. It’s an exploration game with nothing worth exploring. None of this feels strange, alien, other worldly. You just step out of your little space ship to see… Random height maps, random blobs of water, random scatterings of plants.

    There’s nothing worth seeing in No Man’s Sky.

    • Tetrode says:

      Nah sorry this is wrong. Yes there are definitely planets that aren’t as interesting as others but come on:

      “There are no lakes, no rivers, no seas, no oceans. No beaches, no dunes, no deserts. No hills, no moors, no mountains. No craters, no canyons, no cliffs. It’s all just random ups and downs.”

      How is it that I’ve seen all of the things here that you mention don’t exist in the game? Go on the No Man’s Sky subreddit and check out some of the screenshots on there, or the Steam community page. Some of the worlds are really quite amazing.

      • fish99 says:

        One thing I’d say about the planets, there isn’t enough variety within each planet. What you see when you first fly down, pretty much the whole planet is going to look like that, and for that reason there isn’t much reason to spend hours exploring one planet.

      • Anti-Skub says:

        At no point did he suggest real time erosion. You could quite easily have part of your procedural generation randomly cut grooves into hillsides and fill them with water. You could have the game place clumps of trees in one place and no trees in another to forests and plains instead of evenly spacing trees across the entire planet as it does. You could easily have the game put sand at areas where water and land meet.

        The point he was making is that in a game where virtually the only thing to do is explore…there’s nothing to find. Fly down to a planet, look around your immediately surroundings, you’ve seen everything the planet has to offer, because there is absolutely no variation. You aren’t going to stumble across a canyon, or a mountain range or some other spectacular new vista…just more of the same randomly sloped hills scattered with the same flora and fauna.

        The Elite dangerous planets are more interesting, and that’s saying something…they’re just rocks.

        • Tetrode says:

          Huh? I didn’t say anything about real time erosion in my comment?

    • aego says:

      This. Every other complaint about the game is minor to me, but this is what is bothering me the most: the planets don’t feel like unique, alien worlds. And also – although I recognize this is probably an aesthetic choice than a misstep – I miss black space. I’ve felt more “in space” playing Lunar Flight, where you’re just flying in few craters on the moon, than here.

    • wfw-rps says:

      well said

    • Geebs says:

      Procedural flowing water and “proper” erosion simulation are impossible on this sort of scale. To put it in perspective, the drop-off to single digit frame rates happens at terrain sizes of greater than 2048 units squared (i.e. 16 km squared at a spatial resolution of about 2 metres per unit) on, say, 2013 graphics hardware. Bethesda can do rivers because they generated all of their terrain in advance; there’s no way it could have been done in the NMS procedural model.

      Proper erosion simulations are also incredibly dangerous to try for a game this large. Get one of the magic numbers wrong and you suddenly find you’ve made a tidal wave like the ones in Interstellar, which immediately destroys the entire planet!

    • Cederic says:

      oooh. No Mans Warband. Put the procedural generation from NMS into Warband 2 and it may become the greatest game in history.

      Do it HG, give them the code!

      • Anti-Skub says:

        Going from previous reports…it’s not their code to give. They stole it.

    • DeadCanDance says:

      Then I had visual allucinations as I have seen great craters, mountains and whatnot. I’ve seen forests where the trees were like tenis rackets… sorry but you’re wrong.

    • Bahumat says:

      There are definitely worlds criss-crossed with canyons. I explored one yesterday and was delighted by it.

    • Ufofighter says:

      “There are no lakes, no rivers, no seas, no oceans. No beaches, no dunes, no deserts. No hills, no moors, no mountains. No craters, no canyons, no cliffs”

      I’ve seen all that with the exception of craters and rivers in less than 14 hours of gameplay.

      The game is terrible though, pretty much every design decision or mechanic is lazy, oversimplistic, boring or outdated. Thanks god I decided to test the “demo” (already uninstalled). Amazing concept, terrible execution.

      Fully patched 15-20€ in a couple of years maybe. 60€ is a bad joke.

    • LaurDelacroix says:

      Uhmmmmm …

      I don’t know about you but I’ve definitely come across planets that are covered in vegetation but suddenly clear out on a huge flat mesa-like area of the planet and I’ve definitely seen huge changes in height maps and whatnot on planets. Another radioactive planet seemed rather boring at first (just red rolling hills) until I came upon a region that had these huge green, hollowed-out hills (wide open cave mouths) opening to the sea with tons of birds flying overhead. It was a stark difference and it was only in that region. Sure its a single biome and yeah I wish there were rivers too (though not sure how possible that might be with their generation code) but I’ve seen deserts and mesas and all sorts of interesting geological changes so idk if you’ve just had the bad draw or if you haven’t spent that much time on the planets because you really do need to spend a while to find these places.

      • milligna says:

        Yes, clearly he needs to spend 20 hours on a samey planet with no varying biomes to notice there’s not much variation.

    • dorobo says:

      Not surprised… From all the hype videos it was clear that it’s going to be that way :) It’s funny how you can still make a ton of money just playing your cards right.. The promise of it was infinite content for exploration and it’s just not true. It’s a lie :)

  18. Czrly says:

    No mention of whether you can turn off online features such as player named stuff? Until I learn the answer to that, I won’t touch this game.

    Probably, I never will, anyway. It sounds like the U.I. and controls need a complete re-work and, in my experience, that never happens.

    I loved Terraria because the grinding and exploring and crafting only lead to better and better combat against stronger and stronger enemies. Also, if you found a really cool spot, you could build a castle there and claim it as your own – a retreat from said enemies. You could wire it up with teleporters and stuff. There was a reason to grind, even if there was no story, and the actual grind itself was fun.

    Personally, “more inventory slots” sounds like nothing I would want to fight for and the gameplay sounds more like a chore than fun. The scenery may be pretty but procedurally generated stuff always loses its shine when you’ve seen enough of it and it sounds like this game features a tonne of asset re-use, too.

    • Alfius says:

      I have to ask – why do you care about switching off the (very limited) online element?

      • Czrly says:

        I’ll explain: the only positive for the game seems to be the exploration – the fact that discovering new stuff is satisfying. This is also something I like. Nothing quite ruins that more than a message notifying you that that “new” thing/animal/place you just found was already discovered by someone else and named according to their sense of humour. Rubbing that in the player’s face completely ruins exploration for me.

        I know that every game I play has been played by many other players. I also know that none of them – not the ones I enjoy, anyway – make a point of taunting me with that fact.

        The whole “it will never happen” argument doesn’t fly with me because it does happen, according to reviews, and a few months after release, it will only happen more and more. Also, as you approach the centre of the universe (the “aim” of the game) it will happen more and more too, logically.

        • Distec says:

          I’m really trying to be respectful of other opinions and accept that your “deal breakers” are likely going to be different from mine. But we’re talking about a universe of countless planets and you will be so flooded with so many Analysis Uploads that you won’t even notice an already-discovered planet or creature, let alone one with a “clever” name. There’s really nothing in the game that rubs this in your face.

          I’ve never seen so many people put their foot down over something so trivial.

      • Cederic says:

        Did you not see John’s system and planet names?

        He’s given us the perfect reference point for disabling other players’ updates.

    • Kefren says:

      I’m the same. I don’t want other people’s namings appearing in my game. Apparently there is no option in the settings to disable this “feature”. Your only options are to block NMS with a firewall, or (possibly) to buy it on GOG and install via the standalone downloadable file, NOT GOG Galaxy. I haven’t confirmed the latter.

      If they’d done away with the online/other player element then they could have allowed the option of generating your own (smaller) universe from a player-designated seed. That would have been much more exciting.

    • Cockie says:

      There is no such option, but you can achieve the same effect by blocking the main exe with your firewall and it works fine.

    • Asami says:

      Even if literally every single person on Earth played this game and named 1000 planets, there would still be literally quintillions of planets for you to name and claim for yourself. Does it honestly bother you that much?

  19. GernauMorat says:

    Does anyone know if there is any way to disable post fx, chromatic abberation, that sort of thing? Really struggling with performance.

    • Eclipse says:

      post filters are not that performance heavy, but try this:
      – set framerate to MAX
      – disable vsync
      there’s also a ini file in the steam directory, from there set gsync to false. I think they messed something up.
      Then inside your ati/nvidia control panel force vsync from there.
      I was able to speed the damn thing from 30-40 fps to a steady 60

    • Love Albatross says:

      You can disable a few of these using Cheat Engine. Check out the DeadEndThrills twitter – he’s posted some .CT files which allow you to tweak some settings (and also get infinite jet pack and stamina, which has made things a heck of a lot more fun for me).

  20. Kemuel says:

    I’m stuck trying to decide whether to play on my housemate’s PS4 when he’s not using it and get a better experience or play on my own PC as much as I like whenever I like and have to deal with messier graphics and performance and worse controls. Ho hum.

    • Eclipse says:

      controls are not worse on PC. They are bad, but if you use a pad you have the EXACT controls. the PC version is still better imho, just by the fact that’s not capped at 30fps alone

      • iainl says:

        From what I’m reading, it sounds like as long as you stick to the pad the controls are -better- on PC, because you can reverse the crazy decision to put run on R3 (i.e. clicking in the right stick).

        • PancakeWizard says:

          It’s not that crazy because it’s a limited use sprint, it’s not just ‘run’. You tap it down, run the meter out (or don’t), then tap it again when it’s recharged.

      • fish99 says:

        If you want to play on mouse/keyboard, the flying is definitely worse.

        • iainl says:

          Well if you want to play on mouse/keyboard, the whole game’s pretty disastrous on PS4, yeah.

          • fish99 says:

            I was replying to Eclipse (which you can tell from the indent level), who was talking about the controls on PC.

          • iainl says:

            I suspected as much, but my point stands that as much as the M+K controls on PC are not as good as the pad controls, on PS4 they’re the only option. So I’m not really that fussed; it’s still not an argument for PS4 over PC.

        • PancakeWizard says:

          Why not use both? The game let’s you hot-switch between keyboard/mouse and gamepad. The button prompts change when it recognises you’re using something else. Just use the KB/M while on foot then pick up the pad when you jump in your ship.

          • Nauallis says:

            How dare you suggest an optimal compromise!

            And stuff. Yeah, the gamepad is just better all around. The sad part is that people refuse to use it because they think they have to be some sort of purist, instead of doing something that lets them just have fun. But there are enough other people already commenting who would rather whine and complain than get over it and have fun, so there you go.

          • fish99 says:

            I play plenty of PC games with a gamepad. If I’d played it for longer I probably would have tried gamepad for flying and mouse on foot, but I refunded it after 2.5 hrs.

            Still though there’s no excuse for not getting the controls right on keyboard/mouse. This is a game that was always coming to PC, and they’ve had plenty of time, yet the PC version feels like an afterthought. Not to mention hiring a QA team on the day of the PC release.

          • Nauallis says:

            I hear you. I can forgive a lot of the other problems that the game has because frankly, I just don’t care and it’s not worth getting worked up about, but the total lack of re-configurable keybindings and controls has me a little irritated. Some d%$#@$s decided that sprint should be on the right thumbstick instead of the left.

            …That and the game just BSOD’d my computer for the first time just now. Blech.

  21. shoptroll says:

    What a shame. I still feel like this game wasn’t intended to ride a hype train as big as it did. The lack of… polish and purpose probably would’ve been more acceptable (or at least understandable) if this had been a $20-30 curio by the folks who did Joe Danger, not this $60 “best game evar” the Internet hype machine mutated it into.

    • Czrly says:

      Don’t blame the Internet. Their marketing dial was turned way past 11. Any backlash is entirely of their own making.

  22. Raoul Duke says:

    Good article, but how do you review the PC code and not talk about the fact that the game is upscaling what appears to be 720P to whatever resolution the player selects? Or was that a problem which has now been fixed?

    • spacedyemeerkat says:

      The game certainly has a strange look (I mean the appearance of the graphics, rather than the quality). Now I wonder if you’re right and it’s upscaling that’s causing it. I play in 1440 but it certainly doesn’t look like a 1440 game.

    • fish99 says:

      This bothered me more than just about anything else, that the game is so ugly at the pixel level on PC. I don’t know for sure if the game *is* upscaling, or if it’s some weird filter, but the effect is the same. The FOV slider is lying too. If you want 90 degrees FOV you have to go editing files and set it to 120+. Set the slider to 100, you get about 75.

    • Asami says:

      Because it isn’t. What causes the blurriness is an effect called Chromatic Aberration. Towards the center of your screen things look fine since they are pretty well aligned, but as they go towards the edges, the Red, Green, and Blue layers diverge slightly. It’s an intentional stylistic choice but yes it is an odd one.

      • fish99 says:

        It still looks blurry at the center of my screen. I’ve played other games with chromatic aberration but they didn’t look as blurry as NMS.

        The PS4 version doesn’t have this blurriness on poly edges.

  23. Eclipse says:

    it’s not better on PS4 at all. I play it at steady 60 fps (and still feels clunky at times) and I can’t imagine having to play it with a pad at 30

  24. satan says:

    My random crashing to desktop seems to have gone away as suddenly as it began, and I got right back to exploring. After a run of toxic and irradiated planets I hit my first planet with green grass and trees, even saw some fish, it was all very exciting.

    I can see the limitations in the game but they are yet to bother me, mostly because there are just so many things I want to do.

  25. celticdr says:

    Well I’m not convinced yet that this is $60 US good enough for me to buy it yet, and none of the reviews I’ve had sell it for me – they’ve all mentioned the mindless repetition of planets with nothing worth seeing followed up by a random 1 or 2 planets worth exploring – seems like HG released this game 6 months too early: No Man’s Buy for me.

  26. SaintAn says:

    Woot, I saved $60!

  27. ropable says:

    So: easy Steam 2017 Summer Sale purchase, then?

  28. xcession says:

    Spot on review, however I don’t share your optimism for iterative improvements on PC.

    So much of the flawed mechanic is actually a feature, of sorts. You’re not _meant_ to fly your ship properly in the atmosphere because this isn’t a flight sim, you’re not meant to focus on it. You’re meant to land. In a twitch stream he did before launch Sean actually expressed surprise and confusion because he watched so many players flying from one spot to another when they can walk! Are you kidding?

    This is what you’re up against when you’re thinking the PC will receive iterative improvements. The developers (or, at least, one key developer) fundamentally doesn’t acknowledge these changes are required. If they _do_ get made, it would totally change the game. It would make the initial release look like a beta, which arguably it already is. Can you see the developers fundamentally overhauling whole game mechanics as a patch? Crazy!

    • xcession says:

      By the way, try playing NMS on PC with a controller (perhaps, specifically, a steam controller): during flight you can actually look around using the right touch pad! You can’t look around that far but you can look around. The fact this is omitted entirely from the keyboard+mouse controls is just baffling.

      Of course, if we could look around fully, the samey-ness of the cockpits would become more apparent. They’d need to programme a first-person view of the ship’s shape too (so looking over your shoulder showed a hull). These can’t be small changes to make. They’re such a no-brainer they must have been omitted for a reason.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      There is no reason to walk between POIs. Walking, jetpacking and limited sprinting are all far too slow for that. All planets are rife with plutonium, so it’s easier to just keep topping up the launch thrusters and hop from one place to another.

      • Someoldguy says:

        Although once you master the art of punch-jetpacking around, you really can move about the place. I think if I had not discovered that feature I’d have given up eventually. Now I’m determined to keep going until I fully understand the story of the 3 other races (before reaching the centre.)

        • Distec says:

          It’s also just more fun to launch yourself over landscapes rather than constantly parking your ship every few yards.

  29. Sarracenae says:

    A classic case of a game that needed longer in the oven. The PC version should have had a totally reworked inventory and control system. Rather than the usual console > PC rubbish port over. Yes it all in theory works just like the console, but we all know console controls are always rubbish, we expect better on PC. I’ve enjoyed the 16 hours playing on the laptop i wasted over the weekend while watching the olympics.

    The game ran terrible for the first 30 mins (assume this was do to with the constant trying to connect to server in the background). Then it settled down, and ran ok 45-60 fps on my 970m @ 1080p is fine for me. It should run better eventually, and indeed improved once someone realised you could turn on Gsync in the settings file. On 2 occasions after about 4 hours play the game went into melt down with a frame rate of about 3 fps. Clearly some kind of memory issue, fixed buy a restart.

    The game itself as everyone mentions the inventory just sucks alot of the enjoyment out of it needlessly. The red backpack symbol will be on constantly, and you will have inventory full burned into your ears after the first 10 mins of play. Why can’t valuable green things be stacked, even in a stack of 5, all you are doing is collecting them to sell anyway what real difference does it make? Then just try and craft some of the more advanced stuff that need 6 sheets + stuff. So it takes 10 slots to craft one upgrade which probably goes into one of those 10 slots, it’s crazy.

    Taking off uses fuel, except if you use a landing pad then it’s free. Cool beans if landing on the pad wasn’t pot luck because you have no clue if you are above the pad or not at the precise second you click the land button before you drift past it because you can’t go less than 34 speed units. Why is there no cockpit free look or even a positional scanner like in ED for landings? It can’t be that hard.

    What exactly does scanning in the ship do? On foot it shows you where stuff is, in the ship it sometimes points out ? areas, but sadly can’t tell you what that giant rock is made of. In space it’s worse still, scan sometimes finds interesting things on nearby planets, but most of the time does nothing. Again why does it not give you a clue what those rocks are made of so you can decide what to mine. Before randomly mining stuff only to find your inventory is full and you have to go and discard a load of stuff by pressing and holding a button for a while.

    Promising game that needed 3 more months, question is now HG has our money will they bother to continue to develop it to a point where it is where it should be.

    • clocknova says:

      And also, why does one alien dagger, which I keep finding multiple copies of for some reason, take up as much space as a huge pile of iron? At least I can stack all those units of metal; every tiny alien doo-dad I find requires it’s own inventory slot. No stacking. Sigh. It’s gotten to where I just immediately throw all those things away.

    • zarnywoop says:

      “What exactly does scanning in the ship do? On foot it shows you where stuff is, in the ship it sometimes points out ? areas, but sadly can’t tell you what that giant rock is made of. In space it’s worse still, scan sometimes finds interesting things on nearby planets, but most of the time does nothing. Again why does it not give you a clue what those rocks are made of so you can decide what to mine. Before randomly mining stuff only to find your inventory is full and you have to go and discard a load of stuff by pressing and holding a button for a while.”

      ..or only to find that once you land and find your inventory is full you have run out of plutonium to charge up your launch thrusters, but you landed in that one spot that has no plutonium crystals nearby. Then after trekking for a mile for plutonium, you find you can no longer transfer your desperately needed/valuable items, that you spent ages collecting to your ship, to make space in your suit for the plutonium.

    • Flank Sinatra says:

      I’m enjoying NMS so far, but it’s basically a $60 tech demo. The few elements of gameplay that exist are built on the procedural generation and planet landing tech, instead of the tech being designed to fit a vision of the game. I get the feeling that there was a bigger game planned, but they had to make a deal with Sony after their office got flooded and they were forced to release a very basic version. I guess we’ll have to wait for No Man’s Sky 2 to get the full game.
      A lot of this tech isn’t even that new, really. Elite Dangerous has been doing the infinite galaxy of procedural star systems and seamless landing on planets thing for a while now, and they are working on planets with atmosphere and life. NMS seems almost like an arcade version of Elite Dangerous.
      Hopefully in the future we will see this procedural tech being used as an element of a bigger, more traditional game with quests and characters and a story and hand crafted elements mixed in. I can imagine an incredible Star Trek game where you actually explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and actually go where no one has gone before, instead of just shooting phasers at the Borg, which is every Star Trek game ever.
      I will give it one thing, No Man’s Sky has the prettiest loading screen ever. I wish there was a “press A to start” option instead of jumping automatically into the game so I could leave my TV screen streaming those colorful stars.

  30. SSR says:

    Spot on.

  31. Alfius says:

    So the verdict is, what, wait for a patch?

    The impression I’m getting is that HG rushed to meet the Summer 2016 PS4 launch date that was probably arbitrarily foisted upon them by Sony and neglected to polish the product on what should quite obviously be its native platform, the PC. I’d rather wait a year, as we did with GTA 5, and receive a product that’s optimised for the PC, than have to deal with a shitty console port.

    • xcession says:

      I don’t believe a patch would ever target the fundamentally flawed mechanics, like poor atmospheric flight for example. These are features: link to rockpapershotgun.com

      • Chalky says:

        Agreed, the flaws are just too ingrained. The UI needs completely tearing down and rebuilding, the flight model feels like some sort of on-rails bumper car and I’m sure it’s a design decision born from game engine shortcuts rather than it being a good idea.

        One thing they could do is remove the bloody camera panning around every time I do something like find a location or spot an NPC, so it’s not like the game can’t improve a bit.

  32. Michael Fogg says:

    I get the feeling this would be 100% more engaging if piloting the ship was actually skill-based, instead of Magic Carpet. A sense of speed and the risk of crashing into terrain – much like driving around in traffic in Grand Theft Auto – would improve the moment to moment gameplay immensely.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Big time. Was so disappointed the first time I went to fly under an amazing rock arch only for the game to bounce me over the top of it like repelling magnets.

      • aircool says:

        One of my biggest disappointments. The flying model is just one step away from being point and click. The game decides when you can nose up or nose down, and there’s not even the slightest amount of yaw available, so if you’re off target, be prepared to just roll and roll and roll.

  33. DarkFenix says:

    Downloaded to try it before forking £40, very glad I did. Aside from all the issues mentioned above, I found it terribly boring after the first couple of hours. At first there was a sense of discovery, but a couple of planets later I’m seeing exactly why the words ‘procedural generation’ made me so cynical to start with, a slightly different colour palette, the ground is slightly different shapes, but everything else is the same. There isn’t enough ‘game’ for me, originally I thought this might be a <£20 sale purchase, now I think it's a game I'll stay the hell away from.

    • Someoldguy says:

      If all your planets have looked the same then you’ve had a bad run of luck on the random generator. I’ve had incredibly lush tree/grass planets, barren wastelands with isolated patches of crystals, lands of the squid mushrooms, wierd planets with floaty geometric shapes and more. I’m really looking forward to finding an ocean planet so I can try out my extended aqualung and see what fish shapes they come up with.

  34. Banks says:

    I’ve played for 4-5 hours. It’s fucking terrible.
    This has the depth of a “clicker game” and honestly, it even feels like one. This is an insult.

    • Hordak55 says:

      Just close the door when you leave. Just try Barbie online if you need more excitement. ?

      • Distec says:

        Whoah dude, you said “Barbie” instead of “Hello Kitty”. That’s just too fuckin’ good.

      • April March says:

        Did you just use an emoji on RPS comments

        Are you a wizard


        • Press X to Gary Busey says:


          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            Crap it worked. Always used to throw an error like “unable to save your comment” before.

  35. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Control question: Has anyone used a joystick for flight controls? Any good? Is it even an option?

    • aircool says:

      I’ve used a gamepad. I don’t think there’s any joystick support, and if there was, it wouldn’t help much as the game interferes too much with your flying.

    • Cockie says:

      It’s not. The game doesn’t recognise a joystick or hotas at all.
      Well, maybe if you map it to a controller using x360ce, but I didn’t try that.

  36. Hordak55 says:

    No tolerance these days anymore. People complaining about every little fart in a game. I wish back the old days with solid Mega Fun reviews of 16bit games. Players and Testers got on with it no matter what. There is no perfect game at all. You don’t like it or you hate it? Move the fuck on. You can eat a steak raw, rare , medium or well done. It’s an individual choice of taste. Same with the game.

    People expect way too much in certain games these days. If they don’t get what they want in a game the troll comments and hate as well as narrow minded views are staggering.

    • aircool says:

      Well, you expect it to work and look presentable as well as having an intuitive control system that actually lets you control stuff.

      • Hordak55 says:

        It’s all there mate. Sure the game is bugged and some controls are dreadful. Too much stuff to mention. It’s working fine for me. I simply never got hyped on this game. I just started to play and have like 40hrs. Some things are boring alright but I’m still enjoying it. If I don’t like it anymore I will certainly trade it in.

        • fish99 says:

          Trade it? So you don’t have it on PC then. PC has a bunch more problems than the PS4 version.

        • Cederic says:

          In reply to “you expect it to work” you go, “It’s all there. Sure there are bugs”

          So no, it’s not all there. It’s perfectly reasonable and appropriate to highlight this, particularly in a review, and it’s also quite normal to expect purchased released software to work.

          NMS may be setting a new Steam record for the number of refund requests.

    • SableKeech says:

      I’ve not played it, but surely they wouldn’t tolerate me only paying £20 for it?

    • John Walker says:

      You may have missed the purpose of reviews.

      • Jeremy says:

        You know it’s going to be a good day when you have people claiming your review is simultaneously too nitpicky AND too generous.

    • Jay Load says:

      You can eat a steak raw, rare , medium or well done. It’s an individual choice of taste. Same with the game.

      Wrong metaphor. It’s like someone designed a car with a square steering wheel, that you have to enter through the sunroof, with hammocks for seats and a vinyl player taking up the entire passenger side of the dashboard. No-one makes cars like this for very good reasons. So it is with games and especially with NMS: You put flight into a game, you let the players actually fly, not just loosely point a mouse cursor, lock the forward speed to a defined minimum, magnetically repel you from the ground below a certain level, and ask you to ‘hold W to accelerate’. Otherwise you’re promising something that doesn’t actually exist, and is guaranteed to disappoint.

      The fact that the game is still playable and, more crucially, enjoyable is something of a testament to how well the overall vision overcomes the haphazard implementation and deeply unintuitive design decisions.

  37. aircool says:

    I’m playing it… but beyond one or two moments (sheltering from a scorching storm that’s blowing at the same time as a freezing storm), feeding little dog things so I can collect their aluminium poo and exiting hyperspace into a giant space battle, everything has been horribly similar.

    I get the feeling that I’m just going through the motions for more inventory slots, which is par for the course in many games, once you get to the core of the gameplay.

    Trouble is, the game looks fucking awful. It renders at 720, no matter what resolution you set. The pop in is frightening, with holes in the landscape that haven’t been drawn and things materialising right in front of you that should have rendered a lot further out. Space is too colourful, so much so that it doesn’t look like space, just an extension of the atmosphere, or even worse, with the pathetic render resolution, it looks like being underwater… very murky and muddy water at that.

    Then there’s the flight model, or not in this case. It’s rubbish, it’s shit, it’s not even a flight model. It doesn’t help that you can’t pick a landing spot beyond ‘press E to land’, so whilst you think your landing on that raised landing platform, you’re actually ditching onto terrain many metres below the building, meaning you have to jet pack onto the platforms.

    You could of course move your ship, but that costs resources. You can only take off four times before needing to refuel your ‘launch thrusters’. That blows donkey dick when you can’t accurately land.

    Space combat also sucks. Just set your ship into reverse and wait until the enemy sits in your sights.

    But its also clunky… need to recharge your shields? You have to go into the inventory and do it manually, even if you’re using special shield boosters vice normal resources.

    Comparing ships and weapons is crap… some coloured circles represent the stats and it’s just confusing.

    Upgrades seem limited, poorly explained and take up valuable inventory space.

    Resource nodes are the same whichever planet you go to. See that flower? Zinc. See that other flower? Platinum. Need some Iron, just blast the nearest rock then get attacked by Sentinels.

    Menus are shit. That’s all there is to say. The only redeeming feature is pressing ‘x’ to transfer stuff between your suit and ship.

    I also seem to spend too much time checking what resources I have and what I need… was it platinum or titanium? Which one is the blue one and which is the green one (presume green… I’m colourblind).

    Also, did I mention the shit flight model? Go play Planetside 2 for an awesome flight model that’s easy to use and difficult to master.

    Worst of all though is the overall presentation. You can’t remove any of the filters which make the game look dirty. It’s rendered at a lower resolution than the PS4 version and still has horrific pop-in, and is blurry.

    You can’t even name the double dildo looking rocks as double dildo looking rocks, although I have to say, it’s the first profanity filter I’ve experienced that will actually block ‘beef curtains’. I bet everybody knows which plant I’m referring to as well.

    Other than that, it all looks very similar… cacti and standard trees, perhaps with a touch of pubic hair on the top.

    The game deserves an absolute kicking from the media for its presentation, controls and gameplay, even though it’s quite addictive.

    But then again, so is heroin.

    • aircool says:

      I hope they use their new found wealth to improve the game… I was expecting the aimless wandering, I’m fine with that, but at least make the game look good, run well and have control over your spaceship.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      “Just set your ship into reverse and wait until the enemy sits in your sights.”

      That’s basically what I do in Elite Dangerous. In all seriousness, it’s hard to disagree with anything you’ve said.

      Yet, I seem to keep coming back to it, despite all the flaws and crashes. And unlike heroin, this game hasn’t killed any of my real-life friends.

  38. fish99 says:

    I refunded it. While some of the technical stuff like crashes may be fixed, I somehow doubt they’ll change the interface or controls, and they get in the way of the fun too much.

    It also feels like a £20 game to me, not a £40 game. To give some context to that, I don’t pay Steam new-game-prices for anything, so in a world where I paid under £18 for Mad Max, and £25 for Dark Souls 3 and Fallout 4, paying £40 for NMS due to them keeping keys out of regular retail channels feels like too much with how repetitive the game is.

    I’ll pick it up again when it’s cheaper, but only if it’s substantially improved.

  39. merbert says:

    I’m calling it now….

    This hefty chunk of poo will be hailed on Horace’s Christmas list as “most disappointing game of 2016”.

    • April March says:

      I doubt RPS will be that mean. I’ll call it: it’ll be the Worst Game we Loved.

  40. Quite So says:

    I know it’s anathema to most PC gamers, but almost all of the control and interface issues are mitigated by using a controller. At this point, there’s no reason not to have one connected to your PC unless you just don’t like having fun.

    Anyway, even combat seems to work fine with a controller — just strafe like hell and lead your target a bit. On the ground, strafe in a circle; in space, strafe in a sphere, and for sentinels just blast them while backing away.

    Landing can be tricky until you get the hang of it. Most areas have a landing pad or buoy, depending on the type of outpost. If you slow down as you get near it you’ll see a white targeting triangle. Press your landing button when you see the triangle and the ship will land right on that area. For random ground landings, you really just have to estimate what part of the ground you are over, kind of how a pilot does in real life. If you try to land on top of something, it will tell you it’s not clear and will refuse to land (not like real life at all).

    Ship inventory being available on the Galactic Market depends on how close your ship is to you. It can’t be far at all, and preferably the ship should be on the landing pad. I’ve never had this vary, though it’s possible I’ve missed something here.

    The upgrade/crafting system makes sense once you get used to it. It’s a trade-off between having better upgrades for your exosuit or ship’s systems and having more storage space. Having to craft inside your inventory is part of the inventory management mini-game, and it’s really not much of an issue once you’ve upgraded your backpack a few times.

    Scanning doesn’t really seem like much of an issue either. You do have to get the one thing you want to scan front and center or it will not register it.

    So ya, I think the issues here range from minor to design choices one may or may not like. I don’t feel like HG committed sins against the gaming gods with this one.

    I do think longevity will be an issue. It’s not even the third day and I have my backpack and ship upgraded all the way, and most of my systems have been upgraded to Theta level. The planets are interesting enough at times, but definitely start to feel the same after a while. I’m burning through the addiction phase pretty quickly with this one, which is honestly a relief. I can’t spend another thousand hours doing ANYTHING, doctor’s orders.

    Overall it’s a good game. If it had never caught the internet hype machine people would be commenting on how good it is for an indie game. It would also probably be just $40. Still, I can’t really blame Hello Games for riding the hype machine. Everyone wants publicity for their games, but few non AAA titles catch fire in the public mind. If I was making a mid-tier game but people started lining up to throw premium money at me, I don’t think I’d turn them away.

    • DeadCanDance says:

      What’s the deal with the binoculars? When I point it at the horizon some white dots appear… I’m guessing it’s a detection system for wild life but I’ve seen it point to machinery too.

      • DeadCanDance says:

        What really kills it for me is that nothing truly exists until you land on it and the game generates it. While it may be true in quantum physics I find it extremely offsetting.

        • Steravel says:

          What if you were to place the game inside of a box with a cat, remove the cat and play with it instead? Now is the game any better?

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          But that’s true for any game. Even persistent world MMO’s usually don’t generate things until a player requires it to exist outside code or a database.

          Same thing with locally run game world servers for something like Minecraft, Terraria or whatever. It just keeps track of and sorts supply-demand for what the connected clients need to see or do rather than simulating the real-time status of every possible pixel in the game world.

          As all games it’s smoke, mirrors and suspension of disbelief and to avoid listing a couple of supercomputer clusters as a minimum system requirement.

          And to unsuspend disbelief even more, the solar systems are geocentric bubbles surrounded by a painted skybox with a bright light rotating around the planets (otherwise you would rarely even see multiple planets at the same time in a system).

      • Someoldguy says:

        The small white dots are for animal signs a long way away/invisible. Once you get close it becomes a white dot with green or red centre inside depending on whether you’ve identified that subspecies or not.

  41. Anti-Skub says:

    What is the deal with that Alec disclaimer thing that is appearing on the bottom of No Man’s Sky stuff?

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      It’s an ethics thing. Alec has worked on No Man’s Sky and (I’m assuming) has received remuneration for it, which gives him a personal bias when writing about it (and getting paid) elsewhere. I don’t know whether it’s a legal matter or not, but it’s in the interest of protecting journalistic integrity.

      • Cederic says:

        It’s also greatly appreciated. It’s not whether I trust John and other RPS contributors, it’s that I trust them more because they think to highlight any particular conflicts.

        I’m also enjoying the mutations to the disclaimer. That lack of reverence is an attraction of the site.

        • Distec says:

          And to think there was a time when some readers here expressed annoyance at disclosures, because that was seen as “giving in” to a great, malevolent evil that shall not be named.

          Very stupid days, those were.

          • suibhne says:

            Huh? I’ve been reading this site for pretty much the past decade, since its founding, and those disclaimers are not a recent thing. RPS’s transparency in this area long predates the events you seem to be referencing.

          • Premium User Badge

            alison says:

            It’s one thing to include a disclaimer, it’s quite another to prevent a writer from writing about something just because they worked on it. There are at least three (ex-)RPS writers I know of who have contributed to games and were still able to mention them in articles anyway. Having this disclaimer on every single NMS article – even on articles that Alec is not contributing to – feels a bit excessive, and that does annoy me a bit.

            It also annoys me, for different reasons, that some readers wheel out the whole “ethics in journalism” spiel for a computer games blog that I venture to guess many have not even contributed a single cent toward. This site is clearly not the sole income source for several (if not all) of the contributing writers. There’s nowhere that says this is some kind of a consumer affairs service. It’s a private blog that publishes entertaining articles about interactive entertainment. I appreciate it when the writers reveal their personal connections to a game or its creators, because it adds context to their writing, but let’s not pretend gaming blogs are more than they are. It’s just games, for fuck’s sake.

          • Distec says:


            I’ve not accused RPS of not having disclosures in the past, and I honestly wouldn’t know their history in that regard. Given the infrequency of it as an issue, it’s never taken up a lot of my attention. All I can say is that there was a period not too long ago when some readers did seem to think that disclosures were a new practice, and they were done in order to appease shitlords and pedants. I could assume these were newer readers more interested in fighting some “good fight” rather than making sense.


            I’m absolutely fine with Alec writing about his experience with NMS, so long as it’s disclosed (done and done). I can’t imagine too many sensible people would object to that (some always will, but fuck them).

            I agree that the gag order on him – referenced in practically every RPS post – is absolutely excessive. It seems self-imposed by the writers here, so I don’t know if it’s excessive caution or what.

  42. asthasr says:

    For future reference, any time a game touts its procedural variety, it’s a certainty that it’s going to be idiotic. There are tons of games that use procedural generation, but in most of them it’s not a focus. Why? Because, necessarily, it’s boring. Any interest comes about because of the interaction of the mechanics, not the procedural nature of the game itself.

    How many possible Spelunky levels are there? Plenty, right? And yet Spelunky has (as far as I know) never been marketed as having “billions of possible levels.” It has a tight, playable set of mechanics which makes it fun. The mechanics, not the procedural generation.

    Similarly, nobody talks about roguelikes (the classic type: Nethack, Angband, or Dungeon Crawl) in terms of the number of possible levels. It’s just viewed as a given: the levels are built by algorithms, so there are enough of them to act as a stage for the mechanics. Then, too, those games are smart enough to have a wide variety of vaults, special levels, mazes, and other constructs within the dungeon to let the mechanics shine.

    Randomness is, at its heart, boring. It’s only the parts that have human intention behind them that are interesting.

    • Czrly says:

      Very, very well said, Sir.

      Er… why does your list of classic Roguelikes not include Rogue?

      • asthasr says:

        Well, it’s not meant to be an exhaustive list. And Rogue was Rogue, not a roguelike, but that’s a bit pedantic. ;)

    • LANCERZzZz says:

      Boring to you? Maybe. The game was always about exploration, and with procedural generation it is incredible. Entire planets, entire solar systems complete with vastly different landscapes, atmospheres and amounts of plant and animal life. It is an exploration simulator with a game tacked on to keep certain people interested, but I’d be fine with just wandering around the endless network of underwater caves I found in one planet, or swimming through a planet 98% covered in water. If that doesn’t sound interesting to you it doesn’t mean the concept is boring, it just means that’s not your type of game. And that is what people need to understand about No Man’s Sky. The dev said repeatedly that this game was not for everybody, yet everybody seems to think that it was supposed to please them in some way.

      • asthasr says:

        Perhaps I’ve been interested in procedural generation for too long. I don’t view its products as particularly interesting in any way other than as a stage for a game. I do like to explore virtual “worlds,” I will note. Arma is one of my favorite games for this reason. Sleeping Dogs’ version of Hong Kong was fantastic. Dark Souls (the first one, at least) is remarkably well-realized. Heck, I used to love Ultima VII for this very reason.

        However, games that rely on procedural generation to create spaces worth exploring are almost the opposite of real exploration: the output of the algorithms is always going to be “samey.” You may have a different threshold for your tolerance of “sameyness,” but you’ll hit it, too. (How long does exploring hold your interest in Minecraft, for example?)

  43. Aspirant_Fool says:

    You actually can drag and drop inventory items with your mouse, but you can’t move tech that you’ve installed, and you can’t swap items. So, if you have a trade item or a mineral, you can drag it to an empty slot, but you can’t swap its position with another.

    The biggest sticking point for me has been ship controls. If you’re not going to let me hover, at least let me bind keys to pitch and yaw instead of just roll. It also took me a little while to figure out that you just can’t fly really close to the ground, which makes landing on a specific spot a pain, since you also can’t switch to a third person view, or even look around your cockpit. It seems kind of crazy that the Battlefield games, which might have around 4 air vehicles on a bare few maps, have enormously better flight controls than a game that is ostensibly at least 25% about flying around.

  44. Freud says:

    I’m going to be glass half full here.

    Sony and Hello Games have made a lot of money on this one and when the inevitable sequel comes, perhaps they’ll have the resources to create a proper game to go with the amazing world building. Right now it seems to more have the basic gameplay loop of Clicker Heroes more than anything.

  45. Love Albatross says:

    Not that anyone cares, but here’s my biggest beef with the game: the exploration is rubbish.

    It’s not just that every NPC or building or station you come across is the same, it’s that they are everywhere. Every planet you visit has life. It doesn’t feel like you’re exploring brand new territory, just retreading footsteps. There’s always a station nearby, always a crashed ship or outpost. There’s life everywhere and it is boring.

    It also doesn’t help that the game badly needs some unique or at least very rare events to spice things up. Think the flavour text from Mass Effect planet scans – if you could ocassionally come across unexplained wreckage or evidence of an ancient war or the hulk of an enormous cap ship or or or (insert any number of weirdness from scifi culture) that would make things so much more interesting.

    The review mentions finding crashed ships. But these aren’t a surprise, they’re predictable and easily repeatable. You go to a beacon, activate it, perform a few of the same actions and you will always find a crashed ship. Same for outposts with exosuit inventory upgrades. Someone has already maxxed out their gear without leaving the starting planet just by doing these things over and over.

    Many people have said you can experience everything the game has to offer in the first hour, and that is absolutely true. Not just in terms of gameplay loops but also with the stuff that should be rare and mysterious. Because no matter where you are in the NMS universe it seems that a planet will always contain pods, crashed ships, outposts, monoliths, an NPC to trade with and the same type of mineable material scattered across its surface.

    It feels to me like the developers were scared of letting people get stuck. You’re never allowed to get into a situation where stuff you need is scarce. You’re not allowed to accidentally fly into a planet with high Gs and smash into the ground. You can’t find yourself stranded and have to struggle to survive. There’s no risk, the game virtually plays itself. The most complex thing the player is asked to do is juggle the inventory.

    The UI is horrendous and the game is technically a disaster on PC, but exploration – what should be its saving grace – is rendered worthless by a unwillingness to take risks or put the player in any kind of danger.

    IMO they should have copied Elite – had a ‘bubble’ of colonised and somewhat explored systems where you can play relatively safely and then everything outside it is an unknown quantity where you should not go unless you’re equipped for long term survival. Somewhere between Elite and NMS there’s a really interesting and good exploration and survival game, but this ain’t it.

    • Tacroy says:

      You’re an explorer in the European style :)

    • Asami says:

      Interestingly enough, in several of the promo videos you DO see a giant crashed capital ship, so I feel like they’ve got to exist somewhere (same with the giant snake creature), else why would they feature them over and over? Perhaps they’re just exceedingly rare, I mean when you think about the grand scheme of things, the game’s not been out a week yet even, and we’ve probably explored far less than even 0.1% of all the available planets, so there’s a good chance even things that appear on 20% of planets in the universe might not have been found yet.

      • Marr says:

        That’s called concept art, they were pre-rendered movie cutscenes showcasing the game they wanted to make in a perfect world. They also featured convincingly animated creatures interact in complex ways with the environment and each other, and a world that existed all the way to the horizon with nothing popping into existence five feet in front of your face.

    • pendergraft says:

      You know those ruins with three language stones littered around? You go up these stairs and activate this conical object that floats into the air and you’re feeling like Gary Sinise about to learn the secrets of the universe. Instead it’s a dolled up language stone like the ones you just activated. Like whoever was in charge of coming up with stuff said fuck it and went home early.

      • Marr says:

        Yeah, I just activate the language stones, ignore the artifact and bugger off. It’s a much better use of my time.

  46. MrTallShaw says:

    Any thought of using the mouse and keyboard should be thrown out immediately. Think Dark Souls 1. Abysmal with the M/KB combo, but super with a controller. Luckily, I’ve got a PS4 controller, which I’m using.

    And I chose the PC version over the PS4 version purely to take advantage of my 21:9 monitor, which looks awesome and works, for the most part… aside from UI scaling/stretching issues (which I’ve gotten accustomed to.)

    The game is fraught with issues, but dammit, it still loads of fun and I’ve already sunk 20+ hours into it and flying onwards to the center with my 31 slotted starship!

  47. UncleBAZINGA says:

    No, thanks. Poor game design, boring gameplay, no story at all and all of this for a whopping 60 bucks. I’m outta here.

  48. Poolback says:

    Right when you start the game, you are asked wether are not you want to follow Atlas or not. Then the game hammer you MANY times that you can seek it’s guidance and that it’s giving you a sense of purpose in the universe. When you go to the galaxy map view, there is obviously 3 ways (at the beggining) to travel. One is free exploration, the other is to get to the center of the universe, and the last one is to follow “Altas” whatever this is. You would think this is quite clearly how you can get an Atlas Pass !

  49. CartonofMilk says:

    There’s no incentive to go anywhere or do anything in this game

    You can get a bajillion craftable upgrades for your multi tool, but why would you want them? It’s super efficient already in its basic state.

    Same for any of your exosuit upgrades. I never upgraded anything. why would i? its not like you can die. I mean you can but you’d have to try REALLY hard (i played over 30 hours by now and have not died once). Same for ships upgrades. The slots, yeah at first they seem limiting, but once you’ve got about 50 to 60 total (between your suit and ship) they’re not an issue and you just do it cause ooh more slots but what’s the real point?

    There’s no incentives to check other planets because all minerals in this game i believe can be found on any planet and its not like you’ll have to look in specific spots either. They’re either there or there not. Cave, water, ground, doesnt matter. There’s no incentive to go check out on the other side of a planet if there might not be more interesting things there because every 10 seconds you’ll come across points of interest, any of them, you’re basically taking off and landing every ten seconds of flight in this game. Planets are crammed full of buildings, ruins, knowledge stones. It is literally impossible to fly for 15 seconds without coming across one or two or several of them which makes exporation completely unsatisfying. You don’t need to explore at all.

    I don’t even know why they have your ship or tools or suit run out of power because you have to walk in any direction on any planet for about ten seconds to find the necessary materials to power any of these things. And by the way selling plutonium, which is ubiquitous on every planet, is a really good way to make loads of cash which makes no sense since if it’s so plentiful, why is it even worth anything?

    It is so poorly designed as a game i don’t dare call it designed. It’s full of head scratchingly stupid decisions.

    Sean Murray said he wanted to make a chill game. You know what’s pretty chill? Falling asleep. Which is what this game inspires me to do.

    That’s without mentioning, as this review does, that absolutely dreadful ridiculously dumbed down flight model, or the fact that space is a endless asteroid field or the fact that planets are all within throwing distance of one another. The space element of this game holds zero interest.

    Imagine if you’d have had to upgrade your ships or suit or gun because you would frequently have to defend yourself from hostile spaceships or aliens or pirates and what not. That wouldn’t have been chill, BUT IT SURE MIGHT HAVE BEEN FUN. And given you a reason to work towards something. The incentive need not be violence but there should be one and games have proven that’s the easiest and most popular one.

    • QSpec says:

      To be frank, I don’t think you’re this games target audience.

      • bilbee says:

        That’s a frustrating response. While it may be true, readers won’t appreciate who the game is for unless we allow equal voice to everyone.

        • QSpec says:

          It is no more frustrating than the alternative response which is to fundamentally change the game to be more of a sandbox.

          For better or worse, the game is mostly as advertised, and many of us enjoy that.

          It might suck for many people who got suckered in by the hype (though to be fair, 15 minutes on the internet would give you a reasonable picture of how the game plays), but for many of us, the game is exactly what we want sans a little bit more polish.

          If you need incentive to dive head first into a cave or hunt down the final creature on a planet or merely to walk 20 minutes away from your ship just to see what you can see, this game is clearly not for you. That’s not rude. That’s not even harsh. It’s merely a statement that what you want is different than what this game provides.

          The game is in need of some polish. It could use some quirk fixes. It will benefit massively from future DLC (free!), but if at the core you can’t be arsed to find just one more language stone, then play something else, no?

          • fish99 says:

            The problem is though, there really isn’t much to see by wandering 20 minutes away from your ship, because there’s so little variety within each planet (and only 10-20 species per planet). I feel like the procedural generation in Minecraft makes a lot more interesting landscapes to find, and Minecraft leaves you free to explore it, whereas NMS is constantly having you collect, craft and recharge things, to the point where the game is constantly getting in the way of the exploring you want to do.

      • CartonofMilk says:

        who is though?

        Other than people who like to get baked i mean.

        the only point there is to this game is taking nice screenshots, which yeah there’s a lot of those to take. Even then though the procedural generation is fairly weak. Where are the gigantic mountains? the endless forests? the plains? the nearly planet wide oceans? Not in this game. Also, is there even snow? i’ve seen no reports of snow covered planets yet. What about deserts? tattooine like planets? mostly flat and a lot of sand? are those in the game? (genuinely asking)

        Elite dangerous’ barren and devoid of life planets are more impressive looking.

  50. bilbee says:

    The odds of finding another player are smaller than people think. Not only does the huge number of players increase odds, but remember that we’re all spawning roughly equidistant from the galactic core. Assuming the galaxy is disc-shaped, that’s dramatically increases the odds of collision, as we’re all spawning along the circumference of the same circle.

    Back of the napkin: my 300 LY jumps are usually about 4 stars, so let’s assuming an average star distance is 75 LY. To give the game an advantage, let’s just cut that down to 25 LY. Assuming we spawn about 175 kLY out, that the spawn ring only has about 40 thousand stars. Add in an entire order of magnitude (or two!) for the fact that the ring has volume, and we’re still in the ballpark for collisions given that over 200k players were seen online recently.

    • QSpec says:

      I’ve been wondering about this myself.

      While the number of stars is massive, most people are heading toward the center. Doesn’t that preclude systems the more inward we all move?

      Doesn’t that up our chance of an encounter since each jump toward the center effectively decrease the number of stars?

    • renzollama says:

      I don’t think the “odds” are relevant. Finding another play is not a question of probability, it’s entirely possible to intentionally meet with another playing using the navigation systems the game provides. Somebody could create a new website today that allows players to list their current in-game location, cross references them, and points out people who are close together. Those two people could then easily path towards one another to meet if they choose. I don’t see how the “it’s unlikely to see another player” discussion is even relevant in this context.

    • milligna says:

      The fact that there’s no netcode that allows players to meet and interact is PROBABLY more of a limitation here.

    • bilbee says:

      Argh! I mean’t LARGER. The odds are LARGER than people think.

      @renzollama and @milligna: I wasn’t commenting on the multiplayer scandal at all. Just specifically addressing John’s “vanishingly unlikely” comment with respect to seeing other players’ discoveries.

    • Flank Sinatra says:

      There’s no way to play with another player in the game because there is a pause function. You can’t have live multiplayer and pause the game, you’d freeze the game for the other player. It’s a single player game and the only online function is to upload names of things that no other player will ever see or care about.
      I think some publishers require game designers to put in a token online requirement in order to fight piracy. NMS seems like they planned on doing that early on, but quietly left it out.